Acting Up

My musings, thoughts, rants, and discoveries. - Scott Maddock

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Location: Redmond, Washington, U.S. Inc. (Formerly U.S.A.)

Back to Blogging

I haven't blogged here since 2012. Why am I making a stab at it again?

I realized two things about social media I wanted to get away from. First was that I was often using it as a journal, which is boring and maybe TMI for those platforms. Secondly I was using it too much for my taste, so that I felt like a tool for marketers rather than using social media as a tool for my ends.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Soft Focus

Last night I went to rehearsal, because I didn't pick up the last minute voice mail saying it was cancelled until I was already there. Paula, figuring I didn't get the message in time met me at the rehearsal space. It gave us an opportunity to play with colors for the set, as we booked the actual theatre space for last night's rehearsal. I also got to test the fogger my brother loaned me. It worked very well, but a little too much attention is needed for this production, in which I will not be present for all the performances. I think it will work well for another production.

Both of us have some reservations about foggers, as often they are over used or inappropriate. I was hoping to have a little fog present when lights come up, quickly fading away. It would work well for the piece, helping set the tone for the ghost, but not a critical need, and the implementation for this production would not be realistic. It did give me ideas for building a simple spreader for the fog, which I will play with later.

After spending 45 minutes or so on that we were done for the evening and I headed home for an early night, getting home a little before 7:30. Pretty early for me.

I love fog. The real stuff. The irony of playing with a fogger then driving home in the fog only occurred to me a few minutes ago. I was coming across the Evergreen Point bridge last night and loving the drive. The rush hour peak traffic was gone, but there were still a lot of cars. The lights from the other cars and the bridge were it. The lights of Seattle behind me, and the lights of Bellevue ahead were completely obscured by the fog. 'Twas a soft, warmly empty and cozy world for a moment.

Earlier, as I left the office the sky had that post sunset color which highlights the horizon so beautifully. I was only able to enjoy it for a minute, as I was was headed east for my chiropractor appointment before going the other way for rehearsal. I'd been thinking of magic the last few days and the bracketing of my theatre commute by atmospheric conditions which I find beautifully mystical was a gift and jumping off point for more musing.

I love the fog.

It is foggy this afternoon, and while looking out the deli window at the hazy view I was again thinking of magic...

Conjure This

So, thinking on magic the last few days...

Rachel sees the magic in many things, often creating it herself. I read a couple other blogs where people occasionally share the magic or dreams they see or create, and work with many people in theatre who do. For other people magic and dreams appear to have no place. I believe artists have their feet in both worlds. The mundane folks look at those who live exclusively in the magic or dream realm and say, "They're insane." They're probably right, and surely don't realize they're every bit as insane. To me, it is becoming more and more obvious you must have you're feet in both worlds to be balanced, that is, sane. If you excise one half of your being, both are dead, and it is cosmically inane to boast of which dead half of the corpse you decide to animate.

Do TV and religion serve to keep people a little sane? I got to thinking of the blogs and people I know who are obsessed with TV or church in the way I was as a twelve year old. I supplanted TV with books until I was forty, which in many ways was no better. I'm sure religious and tv fanatics will be scandalized, but they sound much the same to me both as an outsider, or in the past when I was one of the enlightened ones.

I wonder if it is the only way many have of keeping a foot in the magic realm. It is notable both TV and organized religion have a vested interest in keeping people from exploring their own dreams and magic, for what use would a formulaic sitcom or an evangelical preacher have for someone who has their own dreams and magic? I suspect that person would listen more closely, and therefore be harder to sway than the people they play to.

I'm more comfortable with friends and guides who open my eyes to new possibilities than those who would show me where and how I must walk to obtain their enlightenment. First, I don't believe they have a lock on the one true path, or any true path for that matter. Second, more often than not they are people lacking any spiritual or personal enlightenment of their own. Rather, they are simply using their dogma as a control mechanism.

Follow your own dreams, find your magic. These are not entrées which are palatable as someone's warmed leftovers.

It Does a Shareholder Good

I saw this quote today.
"We've made milk relevant to how kids live today," said Chris Moore, spokesman for Dairy Management Inc., a national organization that promotes dairy products.
I find it disgusting.

It has long been my opinion that marketing to children is the most scummy trend in an industry which has turned into to the epitome of everything scummy in this country. A predatory practice upon which billions are targeted, to extract hundreds of billions from children at any cost or in any way. (Tell us Scott, how do you really feel about mass marketing in the U.S.?)

The trendy milk is so chock full of sugar and other additives any beneficial properties are far outweighed by health dangers, and our business sector finds this admirable. We go along, failing to see why other cultures find less and less to admire about us.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Three's a Charm II

Recylcing the title for another great weekend...

It was with a sense of irony the holiday season overtook me. My general mien seems to be getting jollier by the year, and I was feeling decidedly un-merry. The depredations of my country and the rampant and crass commercialism seemed especially nasty and cruel this year, with the one time religious majority shrilly whining about they no longer have a free reign to impose their beliefs on others. Nobody seemed interested in simply striving to be a better person even for the brief Yule season. I guess the same openness which makes life and people a celebration for me, has the down side of making the aspects not worthy of celebration more visible.

Then on Christmas Eve I went to my friend Beth's house for dinner with her mother, another friend of her's named Lisa, and Beth's roommate and mother, Peg. The four of us had a wonderful dinner, a nice take and bake pizza from Papa Murphy's. I brought along a bottle of wine my friend David gave me on the 10th, when I had a small get together at my house. Beth was there, so it seemed a nice time to open that bottle of wine.

On Christmas I slept in nicely, then built one of the flats for the show I'm working on with Paula. 1"x4" construction with 1/8" hardboard, all attached with screws and glue. As usual I over engineer things, though it is by necessity. Stuff that gets moved around a lot in shared spaces needs to be sturdy. Repairs will likely need to be made, as I've discovered with some items. When the set piece is strong and a wheel or hinge breaks repair is easy. Flimsy items are very hard to repair, and may not be worth the trouble. I'm going to build 4 flats that are eight feet tall, and either 4' or 3'8" wide. They will be hinged in pairs, and the slightly wider bits will accommodate light switches and such without being prone to damage when the flats are folded. Pictures later maybe.

So, I finished up the flat, moved it out of the way, moved the motorcycles back into the garage, cleaned up, and headed over to my brother's house for a family celebration. I hadn't seen them for several months, and it was a great time. I'd no idea my sister's family was coming so that was a wonderful surprise. Very rarely do all three of the siblings get together. My father was there too. My stepmom Joyce had flown to Chicago in the morning to be with her family so I missed her.

My mother made it, and I was a little tense about it. I hadn't seen her in over two years, and was pretty happy with that situation. She was gracious and thanked me for the nice way I packaged her belongings and provided for storage so she could sort through them with some leisure. I was distantly polite, as I kept expecting the other shoe to drop. I don't want to re-connect. Perhaps the most gracious thing she did was not push it. I do not want to ever be in the situation we had before, and sadly I have no trust or forbearance left.

I was happy to see her around the grandchildren. Her new situation has helped, as aside from myself nobody seemed uncomfortable around her. And in my case it was my own trepidation which caused the discomfort, and it was of course much less awkward than I anticipated. It really was a nice gift to see she has some connection with the rest of the family. I was it for many years, and when I was finally fed up she had nobody left. My departure at some level encouraged the other kids to give her a chance or maybe caused her to curb some of her chronic and well-studied meanness as I had bluntly suggested, in as gentle a way as I could think of, for over ten years. Likely it was a combination.

I suppose the awkward encounter was a tremendous improvement. Her last words to me were, "You really are an ungrateful bastard!" Mine were, "Well yes, I suppose I am." It was an appropriate and comfortable closing for me, though at some point in the future I possibly might have liked a different conclusion. My biggest worry at this point is she will want to resume contact. I've no desire. I don't feel like or dislike anymore. The idea of dealing with her again simply makes me tired. Maybe in another couple years I'll be detached enough to be a little gracious myself. Right now the only thing making me doubt my desire to stay estranged is a feeling of familial obligation. That sense of duty was abused and manipulated from the time I was 5 or 6 years old, so forty years of being manipulated makes me refuse to cave to 'duty'. Sadly, I became aware of the manipulation as a nine or ten year old but stayed in the game because being an adult protector gave me an illusion of personal strength and stability that I held onto for nearly forty years. Funny. Now that I refuse to play the game my close friends thank me for being a pillar of strength for them. Whatever it is that lends strength and caring to others, consciously attempting to be a pillar is not it.

I tell myself I've dealt with my mommie issues, but a three paragraph discussion has me reevaluating.

Christmas was a great day. The whole family was together, pictures taken, and no incidents to even slightly sour the day. I left around 11 PM as the other guests were hitting the hay. Mike Kawaguchi, my best friend in college, had invited me to the Seahawk's game on Sunday. I'd responded to his E-mail quite quickly, but hadn't heard back and wondered if maybe I was a victim of his spam filter. He called me yesterday morning, and stopped by a few hours later to give me a ride.

It was great catching up with Mike, who will be retiring from Microsoft in a few short weeks. He has been there quite a while, and recently the culture change seems to have caught up to his group, and he hasn't been enjoying himself recently.

His mother broke her femur a month or two back, and instead of a body cast and traction they do surgery to pin the bone while it heals. I remember their New Year celebrations, and the spectacular feast she would prepare. His mother was born in Japan, and his father is second generation, and despite spending WWII in an interment camp he became a career navy doctor. Mrs. Kawaguchi who is always busy doing things, also learned the cuisine of every place they were stationed, and sets out traditional foods from many cultures, as well as some amazing fusions. I was thinking of all the work she does for the celebration, and asked "Has everybody volunteered to help your mom?" Apparently, she wouldn't have it. She's not fully recovered yet, but is on her feet.

After telling me about his folks he invited me over for New Year's day. I think the last time I spent New Year's day with them was during my first leave, for the first day of 1985. I always adored his folks, and am really looking forward to seeing them and the rest of his family. I haven't seen them but a handful of times since that last New Year's. It was a growing up kind of thing. When I moved back to the area in 1994, I'd hoped to spend New Year's with them, but since it had been ten years I felt asking would be too pushy. It was a total surprise to get an invitation yesterday and I was delighted to accept. I am really looking forward to seeing them again.

After the football game I went over to Steve and Paula's. We'd talked about having a sushi dinner, and thought I'd check before having Mike drive me all the way home. It was still a go, and their van was running fine and they could give me a ride home. So, I saved Mike a trip back to the east side, and met up with Steve and Paula who are less than a mile from the stadium. Mike couldn't join us because he was going out with his mom. We met up with another friend of Steve and Paula's and had a wonderful dinner. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday put me in a nice holiday mood, a perfect wrap up for a great holiday weekend.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Give It Up

I find it interesting. The poem I wrote castigating the typical conservative attitude I've experienced as a combat veteran was sent to hundreds of people, even though only my sis commented. Three or four friends and my sister asked permission to send it on to others. Susan sent it to the mail list for BookPals in this region.

I stand by my comment at the end. I don't know much about poetry, so my structure is pretty simple and probably askew by many accepted measures. Like most of my verse it was written quickly to distill my thoughts, like the following as I debate what to do this weekend.

WalMart Wailing

Ebenezer wearing many guises
Visits each year upon many stages
Enjoyed by those of all sorts and sizes
Denying they appear on those pages.

Shopping stores which imprison old Cratchit
Out of sight, out of mind, your hands are clean
Craven discounts, free men can not match it
Only slaves, dying old while still a teen.

WalkMan, XBox, some Malibu Barbies
Lone Ranger, Pokemon, Pop Tarts, Twinkies,
Elmo, Nemo. Fads which will cease to be
Before reaching ten, counting your pinkies.

Toys, toys, lots of toys. Pain, pain, lots of pain.
It's not real, it's not near, you'll never hear.
Link by link forging it, unseen chain,
For you, the modern day Ebenezer.

Life Expectancies

Kate and I had a nice conversation one the way to Seatac this morning. At one point I was going on about how I like my job, but I don't feel driven or especially jazzed. After everything is said and done, it is not very important in the big scheme. It is important to travelers and shareholders, but those aren't really important people. As customers they are important to me and my ethics, so I strive to provide the best service I can. Shareholders? Well, I wouldn't let them kiss somebody else's ass. I find it dysfunctional shareholders are considered more important than either customers or employees, and they are out to screw both the customer and employees so they can squeeze out a bit more blood.

I postulated that in 75 or 100 years the average person will know more of Degas or Moliere than of Hitler. By then nobody will have personal experience or will have known someone that remembers WWII or any of it's participants first hand. Hitler will be words in a dry text book. Degas' art will still be vibrant and alive, as will Moliere's words on stage. After a bit she said, "You know, you're right." Artists live longer. Statesmen aren't remembered as well or as long, and shareholders? How many captains of industry can the average person think of from Shakespeare's time? I couldn't tell you who the rulers were though I'd recognize their names, and even in high school I would recognize Ben Johnson's name. So all these thoughts about shareholders, statesmen, artists, and such are running through my mind when I asked about Degas vs. Hitler. We remember the evil, but it seems beauty outlasts it.

I told Kate how I wrote up my evaluation last Saturday, and I just didn't get very excited about it. While I like it here I don't see myself at Expedia in ten years, which makes the whole evaluation process seem a bit pedestrian. On the other hand I have felt driven by some of my theatre projects, and incredibly jazzed. I want to be a better actor, carpenter, and writer. Kate said, "It sounds like sanity." Interesting thing to come down with at this point in my life.

Time Permitting

The world seems a little less weird and askew today. I'm glad to report the cosmos are realigning themselves.

Tuesday night after the chiropractor I went to Beth's for dinner. They thought I was there to install a curtain rod for them. Which I did. With the set building I've been doing the last couple years, my skills are refreshed, my tools and confidence are better than when I was a carpenter in college. I did do a couple extra measures as a matter of form before installing hardware, and didn't need to change anything.

I was only at rehearsal for about an hour last night. Came home, put my frozen meal in the oven, and had a leisurely dinner. Pretty dull, but I got my theatre hit, and was able to get a good night's sleep before getting up early. I went to my Kiwanis meeting for the first time in a couple months. I don't like getting up at 7AM, and being at a meeting at that time is a challenge. It was our gift auction, which is a fun time and good fundraiser. If you are the least interested in volunteerism check out your local service club like Kiwanis. It's a chance to work with a group, get to know local people you wouldn't otherwise see, and they are looking for young and middle aged people.

After that I was off to the DOL (Department Of Licensing) office to get a couple trip permits for the mini cargo van in my backyard. It belongs to Niki in London, who is trying to get her title from Minnesota, which has been a challenge. I want to take it for a long test drive for several reasons, primarily because it hasn't been driven in a while and I want to be sure I really want to buy it, though I don't expect that to change. Every drive in my truck makes me long for the van. The second permit is to allow me to get the emission test and required work done so the title can be transferred. In the last three or four years the permits have gone from 4 days to 3 days, and from $8 to $23.50.

From the DOL I went over to Kate's house to give her a lift to Seatac Airport. While I was waiting for a few minutes her boyfriend Jim called to be sure she was up and on her way. We got to the airport in plenty of time, no bad traffic, and I headed over to my office without incident.

Today is an official holiday at Expedia. While feeling cruddy the last week, I've not been fully effective. Several things which were causing me conniptions fell into place effortlessly, the joint is nearly empty, and I like it. When I get to a sustained level of feeling behind a holiday comes up at just the right time. I frequently feel behind on Friday evening, only to discover on Saturday I was creating the stress. This time it was real, and taking care of it in a relaxed manner is a treat. So I'm having a holiday at the desk. I'll come back a few hours tomorrow or Saturday, though I could work from home. I've not done much of that, and while it is plenty easy I actually like coming in. Keeps the line between day job and real life a little more clear. Though if I had a long commute it would be a different story.

I'll be going for my follow-up chiropractor appointment in a bit. Then a stop at Larry's Market, a locally owned grocery with both a good selection of standard and gourmet type fare. I'm going to splurge for dinner. Probably a steak, beef or fish. Maybe chops. Suddenly nice thick pork chops sound really good. Like fish and beef, I cook them at inferno on the grill, which keeps most anything moist and tender.

Lots to do today, and having a holiday sure makes it nice. Somehow doing what I want, even though it was an obligation yesterday, is still a great break. Not as much as lounging around the house. Maybe tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Just a Spoonful of Sugar

Yesterday my naturopathic chiropractor commented on how busy I was and insisted I come back again later in the week. Well I've actually been a little less busy, but felt stressed at work for no particular reason, except feeling a little dehydrated and unfocused.

Feel wretched today. Crawly skin, tense musculature, cranky. Say "Hi" to me I'm likely to rub my neck and reply, "Screw off." Or offer you a ride to and from the airport. It's a freaking roulette today.

In a few minutes I'm heading off to Freehold to drop off my check for Expressive Mask next quarter, and td/stage manage/set design for a rehearsal. My great friend Paula directing, two great actors, and a dialect coach I know as the instructor of my voice class a while back. I'll only stay for part of the rehearsal. I just happened to have a New York accent cd and booklet, which I burned and copied for the Paula and the actors so I need to be there for at least a few seconds. Theatre makes me happy, so I'll hang out for an hour or two as the process will make me feel better. It will also give my more creative juice for the set I hope to start constructing this weekend. The fact all of these people are wonderful professionals is an added treat.

So, a truncated rehearsal to mend my psyche a bit at 6 PM, then a trip home and a long sleep I hope.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Groovin' With The Fam

I chatted with my brother and father this weekend. It turns out my folks, Eric, and my 11 year old niece Ericka saw the Messiah on Saturday, in the first row! My Dad was pleased he could turn off his hearing aid, and Ericka who has been taking violin lessons for a number of years was delighted. Necks were a little sore, but a great time was had by all.

It turns out the symphony was more of a family outing than they knew. I suspected when I called Eric on Saturday, and he was out with Ericka at the symphony. There are numerous symphonies in the area, and no one was sure where they went. I didn't know we had been to the same one until I called back.

Prediction: Electoral College Will Fail

Bush lauds Rumsfeld once again, while Rumsfeld states he is going to sign (not write) letters to the families of those killed in action. It turns out a machine did the signing for him. One of our pivotal war criminals responsible for falsifying intelligence to justify the Bush adventure, a man scapegoating enlisted troops for atrocities committed at his urging, ignoring or firing dissenting stragegists while planning the war, mocking soldiers for his own lack of action in providing them armor, etc. May he be fed with feces from third world hospitals for the remainder of his days. Like the rest of the administration he evaded meaningful military service. If Ridgeway follows the lead, he can have some bureaucrat sign letters to the families of the Green River victims. It should have the same meaning and affect as the letters from Rumsfeld.

Bush awards the highest civilian award to Tenet, Franks, and Bremer. It is postulated in the media how this demeans the award. My concern is how this resembles all despots I've ever read about. Present over the top rewards to sycophants, unceremoniously fire (or worse) anyone who gives valid feedback which should temper policy.

Social Security was to provide security to folks whose savings and retirement plans. Why? During the depression all their investments in stocks were wiped out. Bush's plan: Encourage everybody to invest their social security money in the stock market. At best his supporters will skim fat fees for managing the portfolios, at worst a replay of 1929, which is more likely than not with the current domestic and international trends and policies.

The Social Security Administration is rejecting marriage licenses from towns which granted same sex marriage licenses. It appears San Francisco is the one exception, because it is easy to identify the queer unions. There is a linguistic rigmarole to justify the policy, but what it amounts to is the fed discriminating against local governments for crossing them. Pretty typical Bush style neocon revenge. They'll blame the gays, the sheep will buy it, and state's rights will be further denied by this administration.

All this is new since the election. This is the very situation for which the Electoral College was created. To override the popular vote should a rogue dangerous to our safety or democracy be elected.

Saturday, December 18, 2004


Steve gave me tickets for the Messiah performed by the Seattle Symphony. Both he and Paula's day jobs are at the YMCA, and there is a patron who knows Steve is a musician and has given him tickets for several performances he couldn't attend. Sadly Steve has not been able to go to any himself, and this time Beth and I were the beneficiaries.

The Seattle Symphony and Seattle Symphony Chorale performed spectacularly. I found my critique was very much from a theatrical point of view, a personal revelation of sorts. The pluses first.

Awe inspiring. The music made my eyes water and my entire face grin. The music and song were spectacular. I grew up hearing the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's recording in the house during the Christmas and Easter seasons. I'm not familiar with many classical music pieces, though I love classical music. It was great to hear one of the few I know well. I still hear mangled lyrics, and had no desire to look at the actual lyrics. The baritone sings a refrain something like "The Lord God is Great." I heard it as a kid as "The food here tastes strange!" I got chewed out for singing it wrong, and have never wanted to hear the 'real' words. The other one that sticks with me is where I hear "Constable! Constable!" instead of "Wonderful counselor." I think I remember those fractured lyrics, because they are two of my favorite sections of the Messiah.

They had four guest artists. A soprano, mezzo soprano, tenor, and baritone. Normally baritones are my favorite, but the tenor had so much life and clarity he was by far my favorite male voice. The mezzo soprano was my favorite female voice. She felt richer and deeper. Was I happy that the only time the guest artists sang together was a duet for the tenor and mezzo soprano. One of those times when my eyes were watering and face grinning at the same time.

The chorus and the symphony were stunning. I could detect individual voices, but they sang and played as one. Incredible. Even the violin trills were in perfect synch. I was in heaven.

The Hallelujah chorus came along. I like it, but it is not actually my favorite part. The whole audience stood up for it, and the musicians and singers caught fire. I'd been impressed with their energy and presence before, but this was a whole new level. Their love and connection with the chorus and each other stopped your breath. I was stunned and slightly disappointed at the same time. It felt a bit like actors reciting lines, and only becoming alive for their favorite scenes or the ones they understood the best. I felt the same disappointment in the last year with Seattle Shake's production of King Lear and the Seattle Rep's production of Romeo and Juliet.

I know theaters often bring in musicians and conductors to productions. I couldn't help but think they needed something similar, bringing theatre professionals to the symphony. I wondered to myself, what if the symphony and chorale warmed up with something like the Hallelujah chorus, and brought that energy and connection with them from the start. I would love to experience a piece of music like that with the performers fully committed, present, and connected for the duration. The phrasing of the music (and conducting I'm sure) gives the changes which are needed, and would be all the more spectacular for the added life.

All in all, I'd love to shake everyone's hand who performed or crewed, look them in the eye and say "Thank you." I was motivated by the performance, and just did some music shopping. The version of Messiah I heard as a kid, a higher rated one, Stravinsky's Firebird Suite (the Bernstein version which I listened to as a kid), The Planets Suite (probably not the version I remember as a kid), Rigoletto, Lohengrin, and several other pieces.

Black Crackers

The New Birth Baptist in Georgia is reported to have the largest African American congregation in the United States. They recently staged an anti-gay march starting at The King Center, and co-led by Martin Luther King's daughter Bernice King.

This isn't news any longer. The African American activists and pundits with the most audible voices are constantly running down women, Jews, Arabs, Asians, and gays. Especially gays these days. Sadly we can't blame the media, as polls of the African American community seem to bear out these attitudes.

I've noticed the reciprocal when I've had friends of color or visited other countries. In college I met many Greeks, Turks, and Arabs through my uncle's circle of friends, and most of the new immigrants would run down other minorities viciously, especially Blacks and Hispanics. My Semite acquaintances in my colleges' ESL programs tended to run each other down, but saved their worst vitriol for Blacks and Asians. The Hispanics seemed to have it in for the Blacks and Jews. Asians and Middle Easterners seemed to be the most viciously racist, at least their hate towards people not of their homeland made me the most uncomfortable.

These are people I invited to my home for holiday celebrations, and such. I invited lots of people who lived elsewhere, and was especially fascinated by people with very different cultural backgrounds. Over and over I'd tell people I detested racist attitudes, and they weren't tolerated by my family. Sometimes I'd never hear from them again. Occasionally I'd be met with relief. Most often there was a total lack of comprehension, "That's just the way they are..." I learned two things from my observations by the time I was twenty. One is that racism crosses all borders and cultures. Two was that many people thought the way to the average american wasp was through racism.

My favorite challenge was, "So you hate like people who look different from you. Well as a white with light colored hair and skin I look the most different so you must hate me the most." It was a young and snottily supercilious thing to say. I've developed a little more tolerance and diplomacy. Opening some one to my perspective is more useful than getting an obscure revenge for making me feel soiled.

I've not shared these observations before, because I find the line of reasoning so ironic. My observations of racism from the very groups we typically disenfranchise as white anglo saxon protestants are stereotypical. Yup, we tend to categorize everything, and when people are involved it generally devolves to stereotypes, the very stuff of bigotry. Racism as a shared value among the races is sad, though it is fodder for dark humor.

I have never been able to gain a personal understanding of racism, except through the super-category of bigotry. I was bigoted as a teen against gays. I was following the herd despising them to be cool, and had an interesting epiphany when I was 23. A Jesuit priest at Seattle University asked me when I decided girls would give me erections. Changed my bias against gays immediately. Ironic it came from a Catholic priest.

So, the folks at New Birth Baptist are not special. They voice all too common bigotry and irrational fears, apparently reveling in holding down others. Every time I see a news item like this I think, well they are fully integrated into white american society. When I saw this particular story my dark humor slipped into ascension. I really wanted to tell all the marchers who made such an effort to crush gay people and put them back where they belong, "That's mighty white of you."

I was heartened by this article. It is heartening that there are people who can rise above hate and fear, and have a voice. Like the white community, it is a minority and the voice is obscured, but it is there.

I guess that is my form of racial inequality. I find it more disenchanting when the black community shows so clearly it is no better at eliminating bigotry and cowardice than us whities.

A final bit of irony. This beautiful and haunting quote was on the same page where the New Birth Baptist church codifies their hate of gays. I can't think of anything more inappropriate, and I'm sure they would have no clue as to the psychotically acute irony in choosing these words.
“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Beats the Shit Out of Me

I had a great week followed by a great weekend.

Tuesday and Friday evenings I met up with fellow artists for socializing. Monday and Wednesday evenings I had mask class, then on Saturday morning improv class, followed by a small get together at my house.

Lots of time with artists. It was a fairly typical week for me. As I was living it, there was an added awareness of what that means to me. Talking about art and with artists energizes and excites me. It is where meaning lurks. It may be important to discuss SQL programming code with my peers at the day job. Even though I get enjoyment out of it, I have no feeling it will be important or memorable in the long run. Artistic concepts are another issue.

Delete, delete, delete. Ugh. So I wrote way too much demonstrating how artists are better remembered than conquerors and statesmen. For me it is true in my personal life as well. Every artist, be they actor, director, instructor, poet, painter, and so on, I have known have had a more lasting impact than any bosses, politicians, or such I have known.

As a naval aviator and as programmer I have had friends who were peers. What conversations do I remember? The ones about code snippets or flight operations? Nope, the funny or sad stories about other friends or peers. We tell 'sea stories' with creativity and artistry, and they stick. Even conversations about movies or tv shows tend to stick more than shop talk, as that is the closest most people get to art, which is a very bleak observation indeed.

I can't imagine living without art. Participating in and creating art, enjoying art, discussing how to make art, and it's implications and obligations. I often think there was a very large part of my life where I was marking time, but not living. What is the difference? I take art for granted now. It is in my soul and life. It was hard to get it there, and now I am stuck with it. It drives me. Towards truth, improving my skills, compassion, and passion.

In the United States most people are simply marking time until their bodies give out. I didn't realize it until I learned to live. It is the saddest thing I know. A nation primarily populated by the walking dead. People throw money at botox and liposuction; modern medicine's greatest capability is draining estates in exchange for a few days or months of extra life which is almost always lived in utter misery. I don't think these disturbing trends would happen if people were actually living. One of the most tragic ironies, death is feared the most by people who don't experience life. I'm fat, wrinkling, graying, and happy, thank you very much.

When I hear someone say, "I don't have time to [write/sing/go to a show/etc.]" I don't know if should cry or beat the shit out of them. Maybe if I knocked all the shit out of them, maybe in the brief moment before they refill a snippet of beauty could sneak in and start to grow. I try to beat it out of myself every few months. I am the only person I feel I have the right or duty to beat up on.

Friday, December 10, 2004

The Neo-Red Menace

In the opening days of the War on Iraq it was realized Humvee's were ridiculously vulnerable. Over a year later Rumsfeld gets called on it. It was long overdue and he has gotten off amazingly easy. As we heard today the question asked by the soldier was suggested by a reporter. Why? Because Rummie keeps himself too well-insulated from the press and meaningful questions.

On the Google news page was the following link. I read it, and was amazed. No where did they deny the claim about the Humvees. He just talked about how unfair it was for the mythical liberal press to sandbag Rumsfeld and unreasonably give weight to his response. This man is so enamored of his conservative dogma he can't see the emperor's dick swinging in the wind.

We do not have a liberal press. If we did how do you explain the publicity the Swift Boat jokers got, the lack of publicity regarding their lies, the feeding frenzy when Rather was duped, the complete dropping of questions regarding cooked and missing service records for w. He whines about a non-existent dragon, but skirts around the fact Rumsfeld said, "You go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you might want, or wish to have, at a later time." What did this guy expect people to report on. Maybe something Ralph Nader said in the 1960's?

I'd like to see the media repeat administration statements from 2003. Remember these gems? We will finish the war by the end of Summer. We are well-equipped, well-manned, and prepared for all contingencies. We know where the WMD's are and we'll find them quickly. Etc. I suppose our media is much too liberal to report on that.

The right has an itinerary I don't understand. I've leaned towards liberal and conservative positions on different issues at different times. When the real world informs me, I try to adjust my stance in a sensible way. However with the right, neither facts or the safety of our troops are not about to get in the way. They live to claim they have won a meaningless debate rather than to actually think about what they are doing.

Thus the right's dogma takes precedence over integrity, intellect, ethics, morality, and certainly over the safety of the troops they disingenuously claim to support. Tax breaks for the wealthy, rolling back of equal opportunity, unfettered domestic surveillance, reducing corporate accountability, nullifying civil and personal liberties, and encouraging fear and timidity in the population appear to be their only actual goals and contributions.

I was miffed to find that bit of cowardly yellow journalism on the Google News site, but mollified when this showed up a few hours later.

We now call liberals blue, and conservatives red. Of all the deceptions and methods which have been recycled from McCarthyism, it seems the only one which has become valid with time was forgotten. The very foundations of our society really are under assault by a Red Menace, now that we have created one which really exists.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Begin Again Gilligan

Last night I lasted through our next to last Mask class this quarter. The Larval Mask work we are starting uses the Neutral Mask work as a foundation, and is intended to serve as a bridge to Expressive Mask. Now we are communicating character.

The mask progression process as I see it thus far, is learn to approach neutrality. That is, add no extraneous story or intention with your physicality. Next use that neutrality to inhabit a character, while minimizing your idiosyncrasies. (We used the animal study as a very effective practical implementation of neutrality to which we added 'character'.) As we add character the neutral mask work enables us to keep our personal traits from diminishing the character we are working to create.

It was much like the first few classes. I felt adrift, and other students were asking lots of questions. The masks we are using now are somewhat expressive, and we are 'following' the mask. It's another trial and error process and it feels like starting all over again.

I found it nice people were asking questions. "What do you mean by letting the mask lead?" "What are we trying to do?" "Why did you tell me to..." The same questions were floating in the back of my mind somewhere, but I rarely verbalize them. I have an eagerness to go and see what I will discover. When I question I go into my head too much, and block myself. Hearing others ask the questions I'm not voicing is very helpful. Okay, sometimes the questions go on too long. I think I'd rather have a few too many questions than none at all. I was surprised to find myself grateful there are people asking questions.

I cracked a joke towards the end of class. Sometimes you just can't help it, and it was also a safe way of making an observation. Our class sessions are in a rather large room, which was once a dance studio. We set up a couple rolling screens, which serve as a solid scrim at the arbitrarily defined upstage end of the room. The larval masks were laid out on a table behind the scrim. In groups of four, we got behind the scrim and one at a time shoed a mask, came out interacted with the other half of the class a bit, and went back behind the scrim. We did this four times and were learning the scope, presence, and life of the masks.

We cycled through four times, so each one of us had four simple transits. Plus the inevitable do-overs and adjustments. I was the last in line for the first group. On the last pass people unshoed their masks and went back and joined the rest of the class. It really felt weird returning behind the scrim to unshoe with my fellow players gone, and I was struck by a funny thought which I shared when we were done discussing the exercise.

"This is totally unrelated. I was the last one, and it was really strange to go behind the screen and find nobody there. There was a real feeling of being abandoned and I had this line run through my head. I can't believe the bitch took the ice cube tray!"

Luckily everybody got my allusion to having a spouse or significant other pack up and leave without warning. Nearly as good a laugh as I got on Monday. It was very satisfying people got the joke for two reasons. I crack jokes a lot, and while I have gotten better at it, I always worry the references I'm making won't be clear. It was not a big deal, but I wanted to put the idea in people's heads that leaving before everyone was done felt weird. Thinking back on it, it seems staying in the exercise is way of being generous and present for your scene partners. I use humor when I can, mostly self-deprecating as it is a way for me to face things. If I can't joke about my weight, I sure as Hell can't face the problem. I'm a little more tentative when I joke outside that realm. Unless I'm throwing barbs at evildoers, like republicans.

A blogger observation. I refuse cookies, so adding new words to the blogger spell checker is doesn't work. Why is blog not in the blog spell checker?

Different Faces

Met up with Rachel for dinner Tuesday night. Always fun and interesting, and this time Rachel initiated a conversation on the difference between our in-person and blog personas. I read several blogs by people I know personally on a regular basis and I've noticed persona differences between the blogs and in-person encounters. It didn't occur to me I was different too. Oh, but I am. A lot different it turns out.

I suggested maybe it is like different facets on a gemstone. You're seeing the same essential object from a different angle. I read the blog of someone I know and there is a recognition of the person as well as new discovery.

Rachel also complimented my blog titles. I do have fun with that. Can I keep it up now I'm thinking about it?

I use my blog as a personal journal. There are some filters on what I say to avoid breaking confidences or being hurtful to people , but for the most part I am not thinking of readers or trying to find more readers. I tend to develop my ideas and thoughts, and have found it is a wonderful tool.

For example, I am livid about our leadership to the point where I feel passively paying my taxes is an immoral act. Moving out of the country is a real and viable option for me, though not my first choice. I'd been thinking about starting a theatre down the road, then read Kipley's recounting of the space he found and starting the long task of building it into a theatre.

So I worked out a non-passive response to what I see as the psychotically dysfunctional path my country is going down. Well done fringe theatre does not beat people over the head, but gets them to think. Big equity theatres can do this to, but they tend to be a little less challenging to the audience and are less accessible to most people. The beauty of fringe can be that building a subscriber base does not have to be the primary goal. Getting a few people to think openly, instead of going along with the herd is a worthwhile and reasonable aim.

Writing down my thoughts and anger in a journal helped me focus. I may not find a space for a theatre, but I won't be passive.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Do You Really Support the Military?

I sent the following to my US Senators and Congressman. I deleted a short note I included which was geographically specific.
I am sending this to all congressional members in my district.

I would strongly support legislation removing deferments and exemptions from the draft.

1) Traditionally college has been used to avoid or postpone service. This is elitism. Minorities and low income families pay the price.

2) Same with national guard type service. The only exemption here should be for those who have already been called up for active duty.

3) We would be a lot more likely to be responsible in our choice to wage war if everybody's children had an equal chance of being drafted.

4) It would bring up a debate on the fairness of the draft before we are forced to reinstate it, at which point the elitism would be impossible to address.
I would love to see this become an issue. Force the people who support the war, to face a real possibility of having their children sent. I believe there is a real trend, in which those who can afford to keep their children safe from the draft are much more likely to support this war. Use the websites to find and write to your elected representatives. If you think it is worthwhile, copy and send to your friends.

Warming Up

Getting ready for work this morning and recollecting the great experience I had in class last night I came to a realization I take things for granted. An interesting look at myself in which I found both positive and negative aspects. I was in a Dinner Mystery with Exchange Theatre on Saturday. It was a package which was purchased by some wonderful patrons at the annual Gala fundraising auction. They even gave each of the actors a bottle of wine.

In nearly every class I take we spend time in front of the class with an exercise, sometimes in small groups, more often by ourselves or with one other person. So in addition to the murder mystery, I recently worked in a show, took a weekly improv workshop, and am finishing up a the first quarter of a twice weekly Mask Progression.

I spend a lot of time in various situations and venues on a real or virtual stage. It is a gift to be able to do that, and for someone who had massive stage fright most of his life it is an even bigger gift to be at a point where being in front of people is something taken for granted rather than feared. I still have to deal with nerves on occasion, but I learned to embrace those butterflies as a source of energy.

The negative is more of an awareness, that the work itself is not something to take for granted. I have learned as an artist you are never finished with your growth and learning. Without the movement of growth you are stagnant, which is foul for you and your audience.

Each audience is a unique and transient being, even if it is the same people on another day. Each audience deserves all your respect and honor. I find it irritating when cast or crew complain about a 'bad' or 'dead' audience. The biggest reason may be I am thinking the same thing, and I don't want to get the thought stuck in my head. If an audience is quiet it may be they need the quiet, or it may be you're disappointing them. In either case you owe them your best. Don't get caught up in recalling work you did and sacrifices you made to put up the show. Each member of the audience made the effort to be in that seat. That is their reality and you damn well better honor it.

In case you asked, "What was his great experience last night?" We worked with our animals for the last time before moving from Neutral Mask to Larval Mask, bringing our animals into the human. I volunteered to go first which I tend to do. I like observing other people without having the "When should I go?" dialog running through my head. It is interesting that as we worked we all understood what was meant by "Add a drop more animal." or "Add two more drops human."

The down side of going first can be missing out on some things as the exercise warms up. Generally that is made up for by the tendency of giving more time to the early birds. This time they started adding suggestions for the subsequent exercises. The falcon who had fast sharp movements, was told to imagine a cigarette in one hand, expensive clothes, furry lingerie, etc. The resulting snooty woman was engaging and hysterical as were all the suggestions. Our instructors have a knack for comedy, so that is where suggestions tended to go.

I didn't miss the fun suggestions after all, and ended up with the funnest, because the suggestion was not shared with the class until afterwards. George took me behind the screen after every one else was done and told me to imagine I was wearing leather chaps. Easy enough, I used them for riding gear for years. Then he added, "That's it. Your butt cheeks are visible and you're proud. Subtle, but proud. You're in the Gay Pride Parade and you know you've the nicest butt." Okay, all these additions were new ideas.

I almost lost it when I came out from behind the screen. The class was roaring with laughter, and I nearly dropped out of my animal/human. I like making people laugh, but I've never used physicality. It was an experiential epiphany for me. What people guessed I was doing was startlingly close to what I was imagining. We hear over and over, you don't have to 'show' people what you are trying to do, simply let them see it. It makes perfect sense to me, but this proved the concept to me on a very visceral level. Of course, there is some work involved in letting yourself go someplace.

And to think I was feeling yucky before I left the office last night. I felt chilled to the core, and the idea of riding the motorcycle to class was not appealing at all. I wanted nothing more than to crawl into some nice warm sheets and go to sleep. Well, by the end of class I felt pretty good.

Monday, December 06, 2004

What Was I Thinking?

About a month ago I had a very intense dream. That is almost all I remember, the intensity and a need to understand French. I've never been interested in learning French, but recently I have wondered why I had such a block regarding the German and Spanish I took in high school and college. The dream and the musing came together, and I decided to take a weekly French class through Bellevue Community College. I'm curious if a desire and a more balanced life will make understanding a language easier.

This is very impulsive for me. I can't believe I'm taking a class based on a dream. It sounds so weird, that I couldn't resist the impulse. It's not like I'm planning to move to Paris and be an artist or take an extended vacation in France. There is a mysterious urge at work, and I'll have to see if it will carry me through the class.

I noticed as I was scanning news today, that tomorrow is the 63rd anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. There was a pretty straightforward war, fighting against idealistic nation building. Was it the ideals or the nation building we opposed? In either case it does not cast my country in a light which makes me comfortable today.

My most powerful association with the French is the Resistance during World War II. Admittedly I don't know much about it, beyond understanding they were opposed not only by the occupiers but by their own government. A testament to the courage of the French people. Seeing Pearl Harbor reminded me of my desire to study French. It is a tenuous connection, perhaps living only in my mind, but I feel a bond of admiration for a people who would oppose a seemingly invulnerable enemy who used the most brutal methods imaginable to convert the world to their narrow and exclusive dogma. I'd like to someday be able to read literature in French or watch films or plays in French, and understand the language and culture it reflects.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Initial Idea

Well, here are my thoughts for a hole in the wall theatre. For non-local readers Seattle has a vibrant a varied theatre community. Across Lake Washington are several cities including Redmond, Kirkland, Bellevue, and Issaquah which are collectively called the East Side. These were bedroom communities in the 50's, 60's, and 70's located near and occasionally on rich farmland.

Then high tech in the form of Microsoft came to town in the 80's and concrete tilt-ups for manufacturing, office parks, and strip malls became the predominate architecture. Affluence came along as well. It is an interesting juxtaposition. Beautiful estates and gated communities, abutting strip malls and office parks already getting seedy and middle-class housing developments which look more like penal institutions than homes.

Having known the area in the late 70's and coming back twenty years later I was stunned by the change in appearance and behavior. Much of the farmland is now unattractive industrial or office parks. It is now official policy in these burgs to pack up homeless people and dump them in Seattle, then complain loudly about paying taxes to support shelters, when there is not a homeless problem on the East Side. There are exorbitant graduation ceremonies for kindergarten, elementary school, and junior high kids. Often with limousines. Again with the limousines, they are like a plague for several months as everybody needs one for numerous high school functions at the end of the year. Most of the region looks on the East Side as being very self-involved and arrogant. It is hard to deny it is so, yet there are pockets of very low income families (I often wonder how they feel at school).

This is a somewhat biased view, and I am among the first to mock my East Side peers. Stereotypical example. A while back I ordered a pizza delivery and the delivery boy spent ten minutes ragging on my driveway curb because he bottomed out his expensive sports car. His folks got it for him for maintaining a 2.5 or 3.0 as a ninth or tenth grader. I explained homeowners didn't get to alter the curb, so he should complain to the city. His tirade continued while my dinner cooled and for the only time ever I gave no tip for delivery. An expensive car for mediocre grades -- I wasn't very sympathetic. The kids are indicative of the grown-ups. Now there are scads of decent considerate folks, I'm just drawing the average type as perceived by most of the area. There are of course really poisonous people as well. My point being we have a normal spread of folks, though I have trouble relating to the 'average' values.

To be fair, I think this dark view of the East Side is over the top. It is a stereotype and the perception many have of the East Side. That perception even more than the truth beneath it makes dramatic theatre a hard go on the East Side.

There is some musical theatre and light comedy which does well here. There have been several theatres which have tried to put up drama, and all I am aware of have failed except for Exchange Theatre, which moved to Seattle. In each of the cases big investments were made in infrastructure and/or venue. I want to keep those investments very small to start with, aiming to get a solid toehold before expanding. With these challenges, real or perceived, here is my rough cut.

I think item 'I.' is a pie in the sky idea, but like many of these thoughts, if I don't ask the chances are zero.

East Side Fringe

I. Provide a low cost venue for professional fringe theatre productions from Seattle, bringing dramatic and experimental theatre to East King County.
  1. Introduce local audiences to fringe theatre.
  2. Attract artists from Seattle for serious and controversial productions in East King County.
  3. Attract local audience already familiar and appreciative of Seattle based fringe theatre companies.

II. Provide a venue for a professional fringe theatre production company in East King County.
  1. Introduce local audiences to fringe theatre.
  2. Provide an outlet for talented local artists to work dramatic and experimental theatre.
    • Provide a venue for east side artists that don't want to deal with the commute.
    • Provide a proving ground for east side artists, including art in the lobby
    • Give aspiring directors a meaningful assistant director opportunities.
    • Provide an opportunity for east side actors to move up to professional productions.

  3. Attract artists from Seattle for serious and controversial productions in East King County.

III. Provide a venue for community theatre productions.
  1. Give aspiring local artists an intimate and demanding setting in which to work.
    • Use experienced directors to help actors achieve truthful performances.
    • Use experienced actors to mentor new actors.
    • Give aspiring directors a meaningful assistant direction and direction opportunities.

  2. Provide audiences with the best quality community theatre.

Thursday, December 02, 2004


During lunch I stumbled across a w quote on IMDB.
"It's amazing I won. I was running against peace, prosperity, and incumbency." (June 14, 2001, speaking to Swedish Prime Minister Goran Perrson, unaware that a live TV camera was running)
I got curious and did a web search, and eventually decided it is a valid quote. The trouble is the mythical liberal media does not report on these items very well. I found it on many scholarly sites, nothing on Snopes, and no other debunks so I am satisfied it is true. I would dearly love a copy of that film clip. Michael Moore put the quote in one of his books, but I don't think it is in Fahrenheit 9/11, though I won't know for sure until I have a chance to see it.

This quote was preceded one of the most telling quotes about our poppinjay in chief, "Is our children learning?" A pretty accurate reflection of his rigorous acumen, and as good an indicator of what his "Leave no child behind" facade is likely to accomplish.

'nuff politics today. Though I still feel like I swallowed the Red Pill.

Everybody seems busy and distracted with the recent holiday and the bigger one coming up. I notice the blogs I read regularly aren't so busy and have fewer comments. Is it the blues, preparations, or the short days?

We sort of finished up our animal work in Mask Wednesday night. I used the lion, which was my animal for Rumors. Several reasons. I had already done the research and had trouble finding time to go to the zoo for the assignment while in the run of the play. The other was I wanted to work on it more for the role, then go deeper as a post-mortem exercise. It is one of the prep items that worked, which I felt could have worked much better. Applying the precepts for Neutral Mask to the animal did deepen the work. There is an elegance in animal movements, full focus and intention on the task at hand. The lion doesn't worry about his tail or how he plants his feet when he stalks or charges. What do you do with your hands on stage? It's not an issue like it was in my first few plays. The focus, listening and intention take care of to a great deal and for me animal work makes a big difference too.

At first I thought animal work was interesting but useless, and in the last couple productions it has been one of my most useful prep tools. In Neutral Mask you work to communicate nothing extraneous. Animals do that naturally, and I am looking forward to integrating the neutral mask and animal work in the future.

Next Monday we'll be humans, with the animals integrated. I am looking forward to that work, and where it will take me. I think taking that work a little farther in this way would have helped immensely in my last show.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Demanding Times

I have class tonight. First time in a while I'll have made both classes of the week. I'm a little tired, but starting to figure out what I want to work on next. I am still gnawing over the theatre idea. My first step is the imagination phase. Imagine what I would want to do with it. Several ideas, one being provide a venue for fringe companies from Seattle to put up a show and generate interest on the east side. My hope is to establish a modest venue that increases interest for audiences and performers on the east side.

East King County has a reputation for having plebeian tastes. Given the highly developed materialistic and stingy nature of the area it is easy to understand. On the other hand I think there are very talented and creative people desperate for outlets, who are intimidated by the commute into Seattle, plus the feeling of being an outsider. The trick will be to attract talented people for local productions, and attracting worthwhile productions from the other side of Lake Washington.

Building a viable production venue/company with a good reputation is a challenge, especially when I want to bring in edgy and experimental work. A big reason for starting small in an area that has only been friendly to comedy and musical theatre. I feel compelled to have a few goals like this.

It seems everyday I read something new and disgusting being done in my name. Today, it was torture at Guantanamo Bay, and conservatives once again complaining it is all a liberal media conspiracy. The cowardice of our leaders makes me sad and ashamed. Without some valid socially driven goals I fight with the my belief that paying taxes to our corrupt and evil government is immoral. Unlike Henry David Thoreau I don't plan to go to jail in to oppose an immoral government. I'd rather move to another country. First, I'll try some other measures.

Some research and writing for my piece about Harvey Matusow is a good place to start. The theatre idea as well. My first steps for that are to continue with the imagination and formulation phase. Maybe another week or two. Then writing it down and contacting TPS (Theatre Puget Sound) for guidance for things like insurance, fire codes, and other stuff I'm not likely to think of. Approaching real estate agents, particularly property managers, asking for a space that can be used as a write off is the second step, and will probably start with getting referrals from agents I know. It doesn't make sense to separate these tasks. To start both will be fairly easy, gathering information and nagging people. If something comes up, then the work will begin in earnest.

I have always resisted being pressured by people, and now I am pressuring myself. I can't tolerate the status quo, and to do nothing is intolerable. It might be easier in the short run, but I feel if I do nothing something vital and beautiful deep within my being will shrivel and die.

On the lighter side a couple fun links I have received lately. The first is a silly little game. The second a little bit of film editing which had me grinning like the idiot.

Spread wings soar away
Tasting life gritty sweaty
Pricking bubbles -- free